The purpose of a book review is to help the potential reader decide if they should purchase the book. Or said differently, what value the reader can expect to get from a book.
Praising a book and/or the author in general terms will not actually offer much help to the potential reader. You want to give the potential reader some insights into what they may gain by reading the book.
It can be very challenging to capture the essence of a 200+ page book in a few short paragraphs. Looking at a blank page and wondering where to start can create a serious case of writer’s block.
So here is a template to help you write a good book review. Simply answer the questions. Then remove the questions, make sure that there is a good segue from one paragraph to the next. If you need to, add a transition sentence. Presto, you have a good book review that should be helpful to most readers.
If you post a lot of reviews, mix up the questions so all your reviews do not follow the same format. If you furnish this template to others to write a review of your book, be sure to mix up the questions so that all the reviews do not follow the same format.
Writing a Book Review
- Start with a sentence or two that sets the context for the book.
- Who is the intended audience? Who will gain the most benefit from reading this book?
- What are the two biggest lessons/benefits the reader will gain from reading this book? If possible give a concrete example and perhaps quote a short passage from the book.
- What is the writing style of the author? (Conversational, academic, business, humorous)
- Is the book too short? Too long? Does the author stay on topic? Was the writing style engaging?
- Does the author write from personal experience? Or is the author relying on research, other authorities?
- Is there anything you did not like about the book? Anything that was not adequately covered? Anyone who will not get what they expect from the book?
- (It is often helpful to include some slightly negative thoughts in a review. It actually makes the entire review more credible.)
- How is this book similar to other books you have read on the subject?
- What special insights does the author share in the book that you have not found in other books on the subject?
- Then a sentence or two to conclude and summarize your recommendation.